This Bottle Of Misery

I found it digging a grave for a friend.

Not for him,

He has no need just yet.

His age old tomcat had breathed his last.

The owner, elderly, distraught, sought me.

In the old orchard I dug a small pit.

Next to a gnarled and ancient, damson tree.

In the pit, some small shards of pottery.

A belt buckle, broken, brass gone green.

And the bottle. Stoneware, ancient intact.

Green glaze, strangely grooved, still corked.

I retrieved my small but weighty prize.

The cat interred,

With such ceremony.

As cats deserve.

I withdrew to the house.

The bottle, washed, a thing of beauty.

Poison! warned my host, beware, the grooves.

Were cut deep in the clay to warn the blind.

This much was true,

The cork once removed.

Revealing mercury,

Quick silver,

Flowing brightly.

Mercury in a medicine bottle.

The age old treatment for Syphilis.

But killing off the “cured” in mania.

Expensive, ineffective, and deadly.

What misery does this bottle hold.

This medicine of desperation.

This bottle of misery.

Of a life hideously disfigured and destroyed.

A shameful death,

A shadow on a proud family.


In a body, rotting.

Symptoms as clear as the nose,

Not on his face.

Sweating out the dreadful poisons of the “Cure”,

Dying mercifully,

I hope!

Before the medicine ran out.

View rbpoetry's Full Portfolio